New FTC warning: Some internet-connected toys are far from child’s play

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FTC: Some internet-connected smart toys are far from child's play
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If you’re concerned about privacy, buying toys for your kids these days is serious business. Internet-connected smart toys are everywhere these days and they come with all kinds of cameras, microphones, and sensors.

Gadgets available in your local toy store and on Amazon.com have been found to be able to stealthily collect data about your child, including recording your little one’s voice, monitoring their whereabouts and sharing their location.

Be smart about connected toys: What you need to know

A new warning from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that these smart toys can be hacked by criminals. The message comes months after several watchdog groups in Europe condemned popular smartwatches made for kids after privacy concerns were raised.

RELATED: Parents urged to destroy children’s smartwatches

The FTC suggests taking these three steps before you bring one of these gadgets home:

3 smart steps every parent should take before buying a smart toy

  • Know how the toy works: If a doll has a camera embedded in its eye, for example, make it your business to know who can see it what it sees and where the data is being stored. “If you can’t find information on how a smart toy collects, shares, or secures your kids’ data, think about buying something else,” the FTC says.
  • See if it’s been recalled or has other issues: Don’t leave it up to retailers to ensure your child doesn’t have access to a gadget with security issues. Look up any privacy problems or recalls that may exist. “Search online for the toy’s name, the company that makes it, plus the words ‘complaint,’ ‘security,’ and ‘privacy,'” the FTC says.
  • Can you control it? Make sure there are parental controls or setting. Parents should be involved in the setup of any new electronic device that their child has.

One other thing parents need to be aware of is that because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, if a toy collects data on a child under age 13, the company must disclose to you its privacy policy and explicitly ask for your consent. Parents also have the right to ask that their child’s personal info be deleted from the company’s systems.

Here are some popular internet-connected toys

This holiday season has plenty of internet-connected toys for sale. Here are some popular ones available on Amazon.com:

Cognitoys Dino Internet-Connected Smart Toy

FTC: Some internet-connected smart toys are far from child's play

Spider-Man by Sphero

FTC: Some internet-connected smart toys are far from child's play

Ask Amy 22

FTC: Some internet-connected smart toys are far from child's play

The Original Talking Hamster

FTC: Some internet-connected smart toys are far from child's play

YNCTE Smart Watch for Kids 

FTC: Some internet-connected smart toys are far from child's play

We’re not saying the toys above are dangerous, but if any of them are on your kids’ wish list, be sure to follow the advice from the FTC above and check them out before you gift them!

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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